Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar tapped former Australian Labradoodle breeder Brian Harrison to be the first head of the coronavirus task force in January.

Harrison, a trusted aide to Azar, had joined HHS after a running a lucrative dog-breeding business for six years. “Everyone had to report up through him,” one HHS official reported.

Harrison is Azar’s chief of staff, but he has little to no experience in the public health arena. He also has no formal education in public health, management or medicine and only has limited experience in the three fields. 

As HHS secretary, Azar oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — two entities that are crucial in forecasting and thwarting the coronavirus.

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Under Harrison and Azar, the coronavirus task force was criticized due to their sluggish response in grappling global pandemic.

Critics said that the team had “downplayed” the severity of the virus and possible consequences.

The first coronavirus test that the CDC created failed. The development had stalled the production of other lab’s test kits until March.

The HHS Inspector General reported in April that the lack of tests limited the ability of hospitals “to monitor the health of patients and staff.”

He also stated that the equipment deficit placed “staff and patients at risk.”

President Donald Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to be the new head of the coronavirus task force in late February, as the situation worsened.


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